Obeche Wood Revisited

So it looks like my posting on obeche wood has been getting a lot of attention so I decided to look into it a little further. Most notably, Gibson, has started to use obeche more. The gothic morte guitars lines, SG and Les Paul both, use it for their fretboards. The most common fretboard materials are ebony, rosewood and maple.

However, there is something very interesting when you look on wood provider sites, not musical instrument sites. The wood is described as light and cream coloured, which does not match its ebony appearance on the fretboards of the pictures from Gibson. Also on http://www.connectedlines.com/wood/wood46.htm they say that the wood is not good for use in musical instruments. This probably means as a resonating tone wood it is poor.

One thing guitar maker could be doing is staining the wood to make it look more like the traditional rosewood finger board. Guitar fretboards are also known for using hard and dense woods but this one seems to be light, easy to carve and bendable. I have yet to try one of the guitars but it seems like a weird change to go from these hard woods to a softer one.

It also is listed here as plentiful, but on the Wikipedia page it is classified as a least concern endangered tree. What I am getting from this is that there are some wild inaccuracies, or there are 2 different types of wood colloquially called Obeche, but both sources site Triplochiton scleroxylon  as the genus and species name. Curious.

ed 11/18/2011 – Now I know that least concern means not endangered at all, my bad.

Les Paul Junior with Obeche Fretboard from Gibson.com

Les Paul Junior with Obeche Fretboard from Gibson.com

Here are some links to things I referred to earlier


http://www.shergold.co.uk/faq.html  – This is the FAQs from Shergold guitars who used to make Obeche guitars. In the section on the wood he talks about qualities that to me seem inadequate for a guitar body and much less a fretboard. However the wood grain does look nice.

If anyone has any more information, leave a comment or email me at Verdi429@gmail.com . This has opened up a lot more questions than answers for me.

On an unrelated note Country Music Awards are on ABC tonight at 8 pm.

My Music Update on MySpace


Today I posted another 4 songs on Myspace. They are Stranded, The Wandering Biker, General Store and Illusions. These are all done by just me on a Zoom h1 recorder so the mixing is as I sing and play  it. I tried to work on doing a multi-track version of Heist! but I am having some sound issues. Hopefully, I can fix it and put some more instruments down and maybe have a lead guitar in there too. I’ll keep you posted.

My Page is http://www.myspace.com/572609954 . I put my name as the rockridge railroad rider, because I like alliteration and I’m not sure if I want my name all over the internet, yet. All of the songs there I wrote except for one. Desolation Row, where they sell post cards of the hanging.

Anyway I hope you enjoy them and I probably have another 15 songs in the process. MySpace has a data max so I can only put down 9 songs at a time because it adds up to 50 MB. One day I’ll get my music out there.

Smoking Cigarettes and Drinking Coffee Blues

There are few country artists I like more than Marty Robbins. He had an unmistakable country western sound that is still popular today. In my youth, no one I knew listened to country music or liked country music, such a shame. However, I did have one cassette tape with country music and sure enough the ones that stuck with me were 2 songs sung by Marty Robbins, El Paso, which is probably his most famous one, and Ghost Riders in the Sky, a traditional western song. In his long career he made a big impact on country music.

A very young Marty Robbins from lyricsdoc.eu

A very young Marty Robbins from lyricsdoc.eu

Marty Robbins is best remembered for his western songs which he didn’t really start singing until 10 years into his career. Among his many hits the El Paso trilogy was one of the most interesting and hit number one on both pop and country billboard charts. He wrote El Paso and it ended up being such a hit, that he wrote Feleena (From El Paso) and El Paso City. The song features a lot of embellishment picking which gives it this wonderful mystic quality and the ¾ time which is atypical for a popular song. The themes he sings about in the song love, betrayal, revenge and shootouts, aren’t strange but the way he crafts the lyrics. It all goes together so well.

Since I love guitars Im going to go into a little bit about Marty’s Martin Guitar. It was a very small guitar the model number is 5-18 and Marty was really the only guitarist known to play it because it has a very crowded finger board and apparently most people don’t like the 1 11/16″ nut size.  A lot of people like this size for travel, but not really as a main guitar.

Here is a link to the site, guitar specs, not that interesting to many people but I love looking at them.


Marty was also a NASCAR driver and damn good at it too. He came in top 10 six times, and one of them was the Daytona 500. Just so you know what he was about, His biography is titled Marty Robbins: Country Music and Fast Cars and to add to the cool factor of Marty Robbins, he was a good friend of Johnny Cash and appeared on his show.

He released 52 albums and 100 singles, certainly a very prolific writer. Unfortunately, Marty Robbins died in 1982 from complications after surgery but his memory lives on. I had no idea but Fallout: Las Vegas uses the song Big Iron which may turn a new group of people onto Marty.

This is the Marty Robbins I am much more familiar with. Just look at that mustache. He looks like this in most of the videos you see of him.

And now the recommended videos

Marty sang a lot of crooner songs, but I’m going to focus on the country western parts here

El Paso- This is a good place to start


Big Iron- Story of a Texas Ranger looking for an outlaw


Cigarette and Coffee Blues – good song for a broken heart. In this video you will see Marty’s signature parlor guitar. It looks like a little bit smaller you have a ukulele.


They’re Hanging Me Tonight – Classic Country song theme, gunshots for your ex lover


This is my all time favourite country song, It has a great story makes a big impression. Personally I like the Johnny cash version better because there is a wicked piano part, but one thing Marty always had were those 3 part vocal harmonies. He uses them very well in this song. Hell of a song by a hell of a singer.

Ghost Riders in the Sky


Any other favourite Marty Robbins song? any other old country singers you think I should write about?

Leave a comment

Americana Rock Mix- Podcast

Americana Rock Mix logo from Americanarockmix.com

Americana Rock Mix logo from Americanarockmix.com

Who doesn’t love a good podcast?

If you love the type of music I have been referencing in this blog then I suggest you check out the Americana Rock Mix. The host Von is very charming and I have to give it to him he has a very clean and well edited sound. There are so many podcasts I would love to listen to but the production values make it hard to listen to the speaker/commentator/orator. I would say same goes for documentarians. I also have to say that I like Von. I’ve listened to a few episodes and so far they have all been great.

There are a few things about this podcast that I really like. One thing he does that so many others don’t is play a couple songs by each artist. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a great song and when I go to check out the rest of the band’s songs I don’t really care for them. Two, I like is the live sets he puts out. I was doubly impressed to see that a Josh Ritter concert was on the podcast. I have seen Mr. Ritter more than any other artist because he is an excellent performer. He also has Hoots and Hellmouth and few Drive By-Truckers sets. There are over 100 episodes so far and mostly about 1 hour or a bit more. That’s a lot of fucking music. So if I had to recommend a music podcast. This would be number one.

Tom Waits – Bad As Me

The Honourable Tom Waits

Tom Waits trying to find his sound from Tomwaits.com by Anton Corbijn

Tom Waits trying to find his sound from Tomwaits.com by Anton Corbijn

Tom Waits came out with a new album on Oct 28th called Bad As Me. I got to listen to it before the release and I have to say I really liked it. It has a distinctive Waits sound of cigarette smoke and hobo throat. He has all the elements, the slow drum cadence, the obscure string instruments accentuating horns and of course Monster Voice. This album has a lot more rock feel to it that older albums and one thing I really like about Tom Waits is that he really takes all the elements that lead up to rock and roll, like jazz, blues and folk, but combines them into something not rock. That’s not to say I don’t like this album but it is an interesting confluence. The title single it great it has Tom cry singing and the distorted guitar taking turns with the trombone to make a melody. It’s upbeat too which really does draw me in more than a slow song; all around a great album.

If you are interested in the instruments he uses, check out this site http://www.tomwaitslibrary.com/instruments-main.html

It categorizes all the instruments he uses and the song and album on which they appear.  I think it’s amazing how many instruments he includes especially when most band max out at 3. A lot of them also look like World War I torture instruments, which is always a plus.

A few of my favourite Tome waits Songs

  1. Singapore – Sea adventure to a strange land with a group of sketchy sailors
  2. God’s Away on Business – Look at the youtube of cookie monster singing this
  3. Swordfishtrombone
  4. 16 shells from a Thirty-Ought-Six
  5. Ol’55 – I know this a slow one but I like it


This is all I’m going to post you have to discover the rest.

Any other favourites Waits songs? Mash ups?

Old Crow Medicine Show – My Gateway Band

Old Crow Medicine Show

I have to hand it to Old Crow. They made me the Americana fan I am today. When I was in college I first heard wagon wheel and it instantly led me to search for more. I had been listening to a little Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, but I did not have the appreciation for them that I do now. Old Crow although should be given their own credit because of their contribution to Americana and old time music.

Old Crow Medicine Show with Ed Helms taken by Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com

Old Crow Medicine Show with Ed Helms taken by Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com


They started put playing as a 5 piece band on the streets of Nashville, and just got bigger from there.  One things they have done amazingly is make old time music very accessible. They have brought back old country and folk songs like Union Maid and Fall on my Knees, and continue to keep their honest old time pickin’ and fiddlin’. To be honest a high school version of me would have walked away at the first sound of twang, and now I’d rather listen to it than anything else.

A few songs to get you started if you haven’t heard them

1. Wagon Wheel – Start off with this one, it’s probably their most popular song and it gets covered regularly. This song was actually taken from a Bob Dylan song that he recorded for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. OCMS and Bob Dylan are both cited as song writers.


2. Fall on My Knees – I didn’t know about this one until my girlfriend showed it to me but it is now one of my favourites. It is an old song but if you search it Old Crow’s version always comes up.


3.  Tell it to Me – This is from their first album and it’s just one of my favourites.


Have a favourite OCMS song? Any band that changed the way you think about music? Leave a comment.

You can learn more about them at http://www.crowmedicine.com/